Kenley Kristofferson

Composer.

Tag: icelandic folk song suite

Icelandic Folk Song Suite – PREMIERE!

The Winnipeg Wind Ensemble is premiering my new work, “Icelandic Folk Song Suite,” on May 3rd and 4th! Hope you can make it out!

The May 3rd premiere takes place at Gimli High School in my hometown of Gimli, MB, Canada.  They will be joined by the Gimli High School Senior Concert Band, which is really crazy because that’s the band I grew up in.  For me, it’s a day comprised of my musical upbringing – from concert band to composing.  I’m super grateful for everyone who’s making that day possible.

The May 4th premiere is in Jubilee Place at MBCI in Winnipeg, MB on Music Monday (which is also cool).  That building is such a terrific venue and we’re recording it that evening – again, so grateful for the WWE for recording it.  Full of grate.

Here’s the poster! Hope you can make it out!

-K

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Sabbatical Roundup – Highlights

Today is the last day of my sabbatical.  Who would’ve thought 150 days would blow by so quickly?

It’s been a very productive five months, though, and I thought that I’d share some of my favourite events and projects from my sabbatical time.

1) Premiering Morgun with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

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There is something very surreal about getting to work with some of the best musicians in your community.  Writing something for the WSO has always been something of an unattainable goal in my musical life.  I always sensed that they were on a different level than I am (and they really are), but a select few people with the right connections took a risk on me and, before I knew it, I had the commission – paid for and all.

While the premiere was amazing, I’ll never forget the moment that they started rehearsing it.  Both the conductor and the ensemble were in plain clothes and only Matthew Patton (composer and curator of the Winnipeg New Music Festival, which all of you should attend), Peter Johnson (editor of the Lögberg Heimskringla newspaper), Vikingur Ólafsson (the amazing Icelandic pianist with whom I had the privilege of sharing the concert) and I were in the hall.  When the strings started stacking the harmony through those opening measures, there was a feeling of awe and beauty like I’ve never felt before.

I’ll write more about the experience later on because there’s just so much to say.  It is quite surprising where music takes you.  Here are some pictures from the premiere!

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2) Meeting Maddy’s Mom

During the summer, I was asked to write a piece to commemorate the life of Madison Fleming, a 10th-grader from Olds, AB who had died suddenly just after school had been dismissed for the summer.  While the research was emotional, I was hardly prepared to walk into this girl’s home and sit with her Mom, Pam.

I wrote about the experience in Olds in an earlier post, but I didn’t write about meeting Pam – I’m not sure why, I just didn’t.  Her house was beautiful and well-kept and she greeted us at the door.  She had a friend with her and they were clearly talking about Maddy before Karri (the band teacher and commissioner) and I arrived, but she still smiled as she led us inside.

While looking at pictures and hearing stories, it was clear that the family was so happy and fulfilled before Maddy died.  While she was a fighter, she had her whole family behind her and they cherished every moment.  When you see pictures of the family at the lake or at her baseball game, there was a sense that no time was ever wasted, but instead was genuinely spent together.

Pam is a profoundly kind person and you know as soon as you see her.  She just brings an energy of warmth wherever she goes and I think about her family often.  It is quite surprising where music takes you.  #Kindnessmatters

3) Banff!

It took me a few weeks to really realize how transformative my time at the Banff Centre really was.  I worked so hard, I was exhausted, I was bitchy in the middle of it, but it was so worth it.  I met some incredible human beings, some wonderful musicians, and I got to work full-time on music for an ensemble for which I’d never written before.

Some of the people I got to meet:

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Sammy, Kelsey, Abby and Neil

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These lovely ladies, Kelsey and Jodi

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Here’s Abby, Jodi and Kenna, as well as Team Australia (Jessica and Xina, who are some of my very favourites)

And so many others too! Including the wonderful Sarah Slean, who is also one of my very, very favourite human beings.

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And here’s where we were…

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4) The Release of Horus Heresy: Drop Assault

I’ve worked on very few contracts/commissions that actually scare me – DuckTales: Scrooge’s Loot, The Matters of Kindness – but Drop Assault was definitely one of them.

I play Dungeons & Dragons with someone who is very serious about the Warhammer 40K universe, but particularly the Horus Heresy origin story of it.  When I found out that Complex Games had gotten the rights to make a game set in that universe, I was hoping that I could write for it and, thankfully, I was the guy.

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The advance for the contract was almost-entirely spent on upgrading my instrument libraries.  I knew that what I had wasn’t good enough for a game of that scope and depth, so I took inventory of what I needed and went up from there.

That being said, I’m super proud of the game and I’m quite pleased with the score.  We worked really hard on it and it took many resubmissions to get it right, but we definitely got it.  You can pick it up here if you want to check it out!

5) Finishing the “Icelandic Folk Song Suite”

It was the hardest thing I ever wrote – and by “hardest,” I mean the most technically complicated and harmonically complex.  It’s Level 5 (second hardest level in Concert Band music), four movements and eleven minutes long.  I had it kicking around in my head for about a year, but I knew that I had to get it down, I just needed the time…

And it took about six solid months.  Granted, I didn’t work on it every day, but it was always there writing itself in my head as I was doing other things.

It premieres on May 4th, 2015 by the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble.  Going to be a wild good time!

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There is so much more I could write about (getting published in The Teacher, for example), but there’s something to be said for just having the time and energy to do things right.  Not to be rushed to finish a commission or a game contract, but just having the time to make it as great as it can be.

I am so grateful to my school and school division for allowing me to take one semester to write.

Now back to the classroom 🙂

-K

 

Sabbatical Week 1 Roundup!

Holy noodle, what a week!

I’ve got quite a bit done this week, which is my very first week of my very first (and potentially only) sabbatical.

I didn’t always think of it that way, though.  My first few days were quite frustrating with the feeling that I didn’t get enough done.  I put in between 4-5 hours per day because there were things coming up during the day or at night (meetings, get-togethers, shindigs in the last throes of summer).  I’ve spent all of my time on Movement IV of the Icelandic Folk Song Suite and was averaging about creating 15-20 seconds per day.

The very first thing that I set down was the woodwind run on the second statement of the theme.  This one:

When I told my father-in-law about the 15-20 seconds per day, he laughed and said “you’d better speed it up!” I laughed too because I was thinking the same thing.  It wasn’t moving fast enough.

Today, I buckled down and wrote hard from 10am-5:00pm (with half an hour to run errands and eat a snack) and was now up to 1:40 in the piece.  Today was my first day where I really put a big dent in the piece: I worked out a bunch of the runs and voicings on paper, figured out where most things are going to go, and put almost all of it into Finale.

Then I looked at what I had actually put into the computer and it was 12 reasonably-complete pages.  It wasn’t that I’d only written 1:40 of music, I had written over 130 measures of music in four days.  That’s a lot!

(…for me, anyway).

 

PS: Movement IV is flippin’ fast.

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The adage remains true: When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

I’ll be busy most of Saturday, but I think that I’ll put some good time in on Sunday.  It’s really great to have the time to really work out the music the way that it needs to.  It gets performed in May, and will need some time for rehearsal, so there’s time to get it right.  I’ve got four months to the premiere (I’ll be gone almost all of November, but more on that later!) and it’s going to be awesome 🙂

-K